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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  June 15, 2013 2:30am-3:01am PDT

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small business owners confused and frustrated over health care choices under obama care. and how do you know when it's time to get rid of outdated inventory and restock? small biz solutions to help turn profits coming up next on "your business." . american express open is here to help. that's why we're proud to present "your business" on msnbc.
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hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg, and welcome to "your business," the show dedicated to giving you tipping and advice to help your small business grow. let's say you've got a product on your shelf, an item on your menu or a service that you offer and it's just not selling the way that you want it to. do you leave it alone and hope for the best? do you promote it? or do you just abandon it? deciding what to sell and how long to sell it can be exciting, frustrating, and disappointing. but it's something you must do to keep your customers coming. ♪ >> things change and things get old. and new things come out. and you have to be willing to give things a chance. >> what stays and what goes? >> you have to be willing to
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look at things with an honest eye and say even though i love this, it's not working. >> those are two of the toughest questions that patty and richard herdel face in their business every day. >> you're kind of like a hardware store for artists because you have to carry a lot of products all the time. >> we want a broad spectrum in our store. that's why we have so many items here. >> the owners of san clemente art supply and custom framing have about 49,000 products in the store and on the website. >> everybody needs something different. so you have to have a mix of paints, brushes and papers. those are your basic things and canvas. >> and the challenge is to figure out what to stock and what not to stock on their shelves. >> we kind of do that all the time. it's kind of a rolling thing. >> it's an issue of dollars and space. >> we can't sell everything out of here all the time. we're not a huge store.
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so if we bring something big in, something else generally has to move and get squished or go. >> deciding to send a product on its way isn't easy. but the need to keep inventory in check has helped guide purchasing decisions. >> people walking in and if you don't have that, they're going to go some place else to get it. so we have to have it. >> before determining what goes, something has to be ready to take its place. no space is ever allowed to go to waste. >> the dividing line for me has been do i want to bring in something new? and if i can move something out that's not doing well, then we'll have space and we'll have dollars to do that. >> it usually happenings when the herdells and store manager attend a trade show. >> there's a couple of different shows where we're offered the best discount and that's the best time for us to buy it. >> or even when they get requests from customers. >> we listen to our customers. and they tell us what they want us to carry. >> once a new product is in the
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pipeline, it becomes a matter of sales and real estate. >> bringing things in is usually a lot easier. once something is not selling anymore, it's kind of like a breakup. you don't want to look at it and there's a lot of denial, but after a while, you're like, no, it's got to go. it can't stay here anymore. >> richard's first step is to look at the numbers in the point of sales system. >> we have a report that we can run called top sellers. if i ran that report, it would show me what's selling and what's not selling. and that would determine what stays. >> patti and lisa have a test of their own. >> if it has a thick coat of dust, it's not moving. >> if it's all the way to the left or right, it's on the way out. >> but don't always seal an item's fate. >> sometimes people don't realize you have a particular product. >> and that's why nothing happens overnight. >> it's a decision as to how quickly we want to move it out. >> before saying good-bye to not so best sellers, they may get a
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second chance. >> placement is really important. if i'm looking at something, the first thing i would do was move it and put it stage center. you think people see everything in your store, but they really don't. most customers only see what's at eye level and everything above and below is completely lost. >> if sales don't budge, that's when it's time to send a product on its way. >> we can't sell it really quickly, but we can clear it off the shelf and put it some place visible in order to help its exit. we mark things down in a gradual way. we'll mark it down a little bit and a little bit more and a little bit more. and we try not to go below our cost, you know. if we can recoup our cost, we're happy. >> lisa says deciding to get rid of something like a line of paint or brushes isn't as easy as you think. >> we've had horrible breakups, but it's necessary. it should be based on money, but you can't keep emotion out of it. >> she admits despite any personal connection to the products, sometimes they just need to go.
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>> a retail store is about real estate. and every part of it has to be producing for you. you can't just have something sitting there because you love it but no one else is buying it. >> while making sure the offerings are fresh, it's happened that an older product has been given the ax to get a new lease on life. >> we let it dwindle down to next to nothing and realize we shouldn't have done it and bring it back. >> with so many products going in and out of the door, patti and richard have remained flexible. >> you can find most of what you're looking for. and if we don't have it, that's the other part of our business, we're going to help you find it. >> if other entrepreneurs find themselves in patti's position, she says you should be asking yourself a few questions. >> is it popular? are people wanting this item? or is it just you loving this item? >> she says be honest with your
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answers and your bottom line. if you think you need to make a change, don't wait, just do it. >> if you have made the decision to do it, you should go on and do it and get that space cleared away whether it's on a menu or a shelf. do it and then you have the dollars and the space to do something more interesting, more worth your time and effort. and if you have any regrets, you can always bring it back. unsold inventory is something no retailer wants to see. how do you avoid it? and what else can you do when confronted with merchandise that's outlived the profitability? we have a great panel to answer these questions today. angela is co-founder of savor the success, also owns a spa which develops and sells products. and heather thompson is the creator of the shapewear line yummy by heather. and for any bravo fans out there, you'll recognize her as one of the "real housewives of
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new york city." >> great to be here. >> you both deal with products and a lot of products. is figuring out what stays and goes an art or science? >> it's a science. the most important part of your business. inventory kills. they have too much cash on the shelves. and i really love the artist in these people, the artist in me, you know, have a soft spot for that. but they have to get tougher with what they have on the shelves and understand who they want to be. do they want to be the everything store where things are collecting dust or be the store with the newest and the best. i have a specific position, two positions in my company that are called planners. and all they do is through the reports, the p.o.s. system that he spoke of, they look at what's working and what's not working. and with a system like that, you can actually plan obsolescence. you can plan obsolescence and plan something that maybe is starting to down trend with
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something new and more exciting and you're never having to wait and save so that you can bring this in with your dollars. it's really managing your money. >> if something's not doing well, do you give it a chance? move it up higher on your shelves or say it's not selling, get it out of here. >> like heather was saying, inventory is a cash flow killer if you have inventory just sitting around. and what i would love for those store owners to do is invest more training in their salespeople. one thing she said that is really important to hone in on. if we don't have what they want, the customers will leave. not if the salesperson is passionate about something and educates the clients on, well, we don't have this type of paint, but we have this. so i think investment in training of salespeople is key. >> yeah. education about the products they do offer. if they say they don't know we offer it, i think they have to do a better job at telling the consumer what they have. and don't sell customer service short. sometimes you just can't be all things to all people. and if you do have to send them
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down the road, send them down the road in a way that wants them coming back. >> is it just about the numbers? or do you have some things that maybe very few people buy but you know those people tell a lot of people about your spa, for instance? >> yeah, absolutely. we have products that are really high profit margin centers for us and products that are not. and same with customers. and influencers. so i think it's really important to be able to invest in, you know, customer service as well as employees, really sharing the love of what's in the store. >> and the basics they mentioned in their store are so important. that's the bread and butter of the business. the brushes, paints, papers. everything else i could consider fashion. you've got to bring in the new and phase out the old. it's important to understand what the bread and butter of the business is. keeping it in stock, never running out is most important. and those kind of lost leaders that are the attractive fun things, you bring in the new. you make sure they have a planned shelf life.
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>> right. >> and then if it proves itself, the product, then it gets a basic spot. >> well, perfect panel to answer this since you deal with this every day. thank you t. small business owners grappling with health care costs have been presented with a turn of events. the obama administration announced that a part of the affordable care act aimed at helping owners provide insurance to their employees will be delayed until 2015. under the small business health option program or shop, owners were supposed to be able to choose one plan for all employees or let the staff choose between a number of plans. the part allowing the employees to choose is what is being delayed. here to help us sort through this latest health care conundrum is paula wilson, specializing in employee and small business benefits. great to see you, paula. >> good morning. >> what's interesting about this is this is -- we're talking about for businesses that have less than 50 employees. there still will be a place to go and get insurance for your
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employees. but the idea of having to choose one plan versus letting your employees choose your plan really changes things, doesn't it? >> well, i'm a california agent. and in california we've had multiple choice for years. most of my small businesses have their employees choose between up to 20 plans. and we do have private exchanges in california that offer multiple plans and many levels of benefits. so it's not really anything new here. and the california shop exchange will open on january 2014. >> well, there are a number of states that have actually taken this on themselves. and for them, employees will be able to go in and choose their own plans. since you work with so many people where employees choose their own plans, do you think in the states that don't offer this, this will slow down the number of people taking advantage of this? >> i'm not so sure. because the federal exchanges will open in the states that haven't gone on the ball yet.
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and in california and other states, we do have choice for small employers in most states, most already offer their small businesses many options. it's just not widely known. i don't know why. i don't think it'll slow down at all. i think the learning process is so large that giving everyone another year to get into the groove isn't necessarily a bad thing nationwide. >> you both provide insurance for your employees right now, are you worried about what's going to happen? or do you think you'll keep things at status quo? >> well, definitely not status quo. we have to look at the options out there. and we're vetting all of the options that we have to make strong decisions. i mean, it's a big cost of doing business, health care. but i believe thoroughly in providing it. i'm looking for the best talent out there, i have to also be attractive to that talent, you know. things ebb and flow, and i think we have to pull together. i think the more people covered, hopefully will, you know, balance it out down the road. >> right. and what about you, angela?
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how much are you looking at how you might change things with your employees? >> i think the confusing thing for most entrepreneurs, how will this affect my small business since we have fewer than 50 employees? i think a lot of it is awareness and figuring out, okay, it's a complex issue and how is this going to affect my business and my employees? >> and the idea of whether premiums will go up or down. nobody knows the answer to that yet. but one thing people are worried about, the insurance company -- there's a new tax on insurance companies for some of these plans. and some small businesses are worried that's going to get passed down to them. is that your worry? >> i'm not worried about it at all. there'll be many new taxes. a whole list of essential benefits that will need to be provided under the new plans. prices will go up. and with the rate compression, the younger people are going to see the greatest rate increases. however, to the point of the small business, they are probably going to -- when you
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have multiple choice, pick a defined amount they will allow each employer -- employee to use and purchase whatever they want. they can hold their costs where they determine they want to hold it. >> okay. finally, i wanted to ask you about one last thing, which is the rebate. insurance companies if they didn't spend 80% of the premiums on medical care, they have to send that money back to people. should a lot of small businesses be expecting a rebate this year? >> not this year. because they've adjusted their rates accordingly after having to go through it last year. i have to say the average employee received about $2.18 back in my groups. and we did see rebates the first year. the insurers are getting better at it. >> thank you so much, paula. really appreciate you coming on and trying to sort this out for us. >> thanks so much. health care is one benefit that really helps you attract and keep top talent, but it
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comes at a steep price. here now are five incentives that cost your company very little or next to nothing but reap huge rewards in terms of employee satisfaction and loyalty. courtesy of one, negotiate local discounts. nearby hotels, restaurants and attractions may offer corporate customer programs. two, organize delivery service. have a local dry cleaners provide free pick-up and delivery of your employees' clothes. many businesses are willing to provide this service to capture and keep new customers. three, consider an interest-free computer loan program making it easier for employees to purchase computers for their personal use increases the technical productivity of employees on the job. four, offer free lunchtime seminars. financial planners, health care workers and other professionals will often offer their speaking services at no charge. education is beneficial for both
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your employees and your business. and five, provide supplemental insurance plans that are administered through payroll but are paid for by the employee. these plans are typically offered at a lower rate to employers so everybody benefits. we have lots more information and advice on helping your business become profitable. coming up, angela and heather talk about how women can break into male-dominated businesses and how service based small business owners can hook up with large organizations. and welcome to the jungle. today's elevator picture appe s appeals. with his wild animal clothing. ♪ i' 'm a hard, hard ♪ worker every day. ♪ i' ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker and i'm working every day. ♪ ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker and i'm saving all my pay. ♪
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♪ if i ever get some money put away, ♪ ♪ i'm going to take it all out and celebrate. ♪ ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker... ♪ membership rallied millions of us on small business saturday to make shopping small, huge. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. today's elevator pitcher, with a brand of clothing. let's see what our panel thinks of his business. >> hi, my name is rick waters. i'm the owner of a wildlife t-shirt company. it's grown into a popular outlet of my quirky personality.
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in a growing industry, i feature fun and fresh designs for the masses. running a solo operation is a bit overwhelming. i handle everything from design to order fulfillment. the only thing i don't do is the printing of the shirts. i leave that to the professionals. this often leaves me feeling i don't have enough time in the day. at this point i'm looking at $250,000 to $500,000 and i would use this primarily to hire employees. particularly i'm looking for people in marketing and web design. i would also like to do more street fairs, something i do to supplement my selling online. this growing funds would allow me to expand my inventory and online presence. for $250,000 to $500,000, i'd be willing to give up 15% to 20% of my company. >> all right, rick. well, i know three monkeys at home who would like this t-shirt. thank you fur your pitch. good job. did he get everything in that pitch? >> i think you did great. i think one thing i would love to see is from the get go state your status and how successful
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you are. i know you're successful already. and i know you're very passionate about it so speaking from that place will get us much more excited. i mean, these are amazing. they're adorable and i'm sure they sell like hot cakes. >> all right, heather, what did he miss? >> i think he got across what he's doing. but i don't think he got across enough of what he wants. you have to look at the valuation of your business, how do you arrive at 15% of what? 20% of what? what's the worth of your company? what are you retailing the t-shirts for? how much does it cost you to make them? all of those would be important tidbits of information for an investor to look at your business side, focus on the business plan because i think you've got the passion and the art down. >> well, thank you so much for coming on the program. we appreciate it. your shirts are fantastic as they said and thank you for this advice. really appreciate it. >> thank you. they're great. if any of you out there have a product or a service and you want feedback from our panel on your chances of getting interested investors, send us an
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e-mail. the address is please include a short summary of what your company does, how much money you're trying to raise and what you intend to do with that money. we look forward to reading through your ideas and seeing some of you here on the show. it's time now to answer some of your business questions. angela and heather are with us once again. the first one is about an all too common struggle for some female entrepreneurs. >> how can female business owners break into markets specifically dominated by men? for example, construction and technology. >> you know what, i misspoke. when i said all too common problem i wanted to say all too common question. i'll let you speak first. how can they break in? >> stop thinking about it that way, number one. you know, educate yourself in what you're passionate about and go get it. whatever your gender, whatever your anything, doesn't matter,
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go be you and do what you're passionate about it, learn it, do well, and you're going to succeed. >> and there are a lot of women in those male-dominated fields that are there to -- and they want to help. women are stronger together than apart. that's what i always say. also, there was this founder of the household name brand company that called me, he was an ex-founder and ceo and he said, angela, i'm looking for a lot more women leaders in the technology field, i'd like to bring them onboard. so men, they welcome that different dimension in business that women bring to the table. >> yeah. it's interesting. we did two stories. one, a woman who fixed race car motors, male dominated industry, another one who trained bulls. neither of them talked about being a woman in a male-dominated industry. >> absolutely. >> they both said i'm doing my job. >> the most dynamic board is full of x and y chromosome. this is an e-mail from keith and the question is, how do you pursue service contracts with
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large organizations? what methods seem to work best? i'm going to start with you, angela. you started your company, savor the success and got in with a big company to sponsor you recently. took some years, how did you get it? >> so, it's the power of people. i believe in human relationships, human contact so, yes, we got a nice contract with a big organization. and it was really because i had developed meaningful relationships with key people. and not just one relationship because there's a lot of turnover in these big corporations. but five or six. and then once they leave the company, they also are still friends and tell me different things i can do. so really the power of people. >> how do you meet those first people? >> well, i think it's the power of your pitch. you have to be passionate about what you're doing and know your business. i get pitched all the time. and the first sentence in an e-mail. if it doesn't float my boat, i'm moving on. what value are you bringing me? if you're trying to bring a value to my organization. if you're trying to save me money or make me money, you
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better make me know that right away. it's the power of the pitch. and be consistent in your follow-up. each time thinking about how the other person on the receiving end is feeling about your pitch. >> i love what you said about what can i do for you versus what can you do for me? >> if you're selling something, you better know that. >> thank you for all that advice. very helpful. appreciate it. do you work with service providers that charge by the hour and find you're in the dark on what the final bill will look like? well, check out our website of the week. aims to making the billing process transparent for all parties involved. this provides clients with a realtime dash board of everything you're being billed for. you can request realtime clarification of activities and receive alerts and e-mails when thresholds are reached. the service is free for you to use, but the provider has to agree to sign on to use bill
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services. we try to give you unique ideas for selling your products and growing your customer base. today's guest has a social network that does exactly that. john kaplan is the founder and ceo of open sky which has new opportunities for small business owners. it's great to see you, john. >> thanks for having me. >> i've been following open sky. maybe our audience doesn't know what it is. but i think what you're doing for small business is so neat, which is why we've invited you on. tell us a little bit about your social network and how it works. >> open sky is an amazing way to shop where you can enjoy with your friends, discover goods made by america's best small businesses. so it is a main street online for discovering great products. >> i'm a store based in nebraska and i have all these neat things, i have an online presence, maybe i'm offline, maybe not, why would i come on to open sky also? >> so what we've built is a marketplace for america's best small businesses to open store fronts in our community and get
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followers inside open sky, sort of the way they have followers on twitter or facebook. those followers share their products they love with their friends just like they re-tweet or repin something on pinterest. and what we've seen is a merchant on open sky can sell lots of products and build a really big community right around their business. it's a way for them to grow their business online by opening a store inside of open sky. >> i am a store in nebraska. i have jewelry up there. you, john, you come on, you buy my jewelry and then all of your friends see -- >> right. so the way it works is you join -- opens a store front, builds a community around their brand. people who know who love their products. those folks see their goods, share it with their friends, tell two people who tell two people. social amplification is how it works. >> it's like facebook. what's so neat about facebook. people aren't going there specifically to shop, right? they're going there for all kinds of things. open sky is all about shopping.
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i may follow my friend pilar who has impeccable taste. when i see she buys something, i'm going to buy it too. >> you discover goods based on what your friends are loving and sharing on the platform. think about, in our time star of lives, we don't get to go shopping with our friends and discovering extraordinary products. open sky really works that way. if your friend is in san francisco and you're in new york and they love something, it shows up in your open sky feed. >> and you have some people who have tons of followers. >> yes. >> if one of those people buys my jewelry, it's going to amplify how many people learned about it. >> somebody like molly sims has a million people following her on open sky. if molly simms loves it. or alicia silverstone or a vegan
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or bobby, that business gets an express train to growth. and that's what it's about about helping small businesses is helping them get discovered by america's consumers. >> does this cost anything? >> no, free for the small businesses to join. our whole mission is to empower small businesses to grow. and what we saw is if you're a small business, you build a store online, but you then -- no one comes to it. no one knows it's there. or you put your goods on amazon and pray somebody searches for your product or you're on facebook and get followers, but there's no buy button on facebook so you can't sell anything there. >> thanks so much for explaining this to us. >> thank you. >> thanks so much for spending the last half hour with us. to learn more about today's show, head over to our website, it's we've also posted web exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. and follow us on twitte
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twitter @msnbcyourbiz. next week, some small business owners are up in arms over the impact of negative customer reviews on yelp. >> i have a reputation trashed after 25 years of work. it's an awful thing. >> we talk to owners who have had success on the review site and those who feel like they have been treated unfairly. till then, i'm j.j. ramberg, and remember, we make your business our business. is like hammering. riding against the wind. uphill. every day. we make money on saddles and tubes. but not on bikes. my margins are thinner than these tires. anything that gives me some breathing room makes a difference. membership helps make the most of your cashflow.
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i'm nelson gutierrez of strictly bicycles and my money works as hard as i do. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. happy friday to you. and happy christmas in june. did you see what just happened in texas? i've got a 15-second piece of tape. see if you can tell from watching this 15 second piece of tape what weird thing is going on at this bill signing that just happened down in texas. you're not looking for something in this clip visually. you're actually listening for something. check this out. >> i'd like you to hear from the author of the bill who happens to also be the father of reagan. representative dwayne bohek. >> did you -- did you hear that, the ringing? the weird ringing. kind of a seasonal sounding ringing. l